I found an old piece my late father wrote for Art Samaniego of Manila Bulletin. Reposting it here for posterity’s sake
UTTERLY USELESS GADGETS II
BOOMER GEN – MANILA BULLETIN
By Jose Ma J Fernandez
Last week, we came up with a couple of seemingly useful but also useless – for most people – gadgets. Of course, we must credit our neighbors, the industrious Japanese, for always managing to come up with these crazy nice ideas and items that we await with bated breath each year. One blogsite I bumped into (Hubpages) has a list of some ten utterly useless travel gadgets. I had a big laugh as I went through the list of these items, and felt that I should at least share some of these with you. Especially since the others writing for this section are true techies who owe their allegiance to the Empire of the Geeks. Call me the non-geek, the absolute non-techie in this page. Which makes me wonder why the editors give me a rather long leash!
WiFi DETECTOR SHIRT
Since I am still one of those who prefers to work out of the house, using a desktop or laptop computer with a fixed wifi system and a router for use within the premises, I guess the idea of a T-Shirt that can “detect” WiFi signals is something that the more portable internet users would appreciate. Imagine going around public places and then getting a visual indication of signal strength right on the Tee itself! Personally, I would have preferred a vibrating alert, but then, that would probably have me classified as some sort of pervert. Of course, one problem is that the logo showing signal strength is right smack down the middle of the shirt-front, which makes it awkward to look at or check. But it makes for a wonderful line when one wants to start up a conversation: “Oh, could you please check the front of my shirt and tell me if have a strong signal going?” Yeah, that would be a new one that could be used for persons of the opposite sex.
Now if only the shirt came in various colors, then, it could be used different days without one being accused of being stingy with the laundry.
PUCHI-PUCHI VIRTUAL BUBBLE WRAP
The first time my family saw those bubble wraps that supposedly keep delicate items from being bruised or destroyed in transit, my two young boys gleefully started stomping on them as they popped the bubbles one by one. Since then, I have had to resist the temptation to pop those bubbles myself, and have tried – unsuccessfully – to have the family keep them for future use. Bubble wraps are meant to be popped, seems to be the accepted norm.
Comes now the Puchi-Puchi virtual bubble wrap, a non bubble wrap that allows one to gleefully pop virtual bubbles all day long without destroying existing wraps or running out of the stuff to pop. It looks like a small square with fake bubbles on them that one can “pop” all day long. And it has an additional feature in that every 100th bubble popped gives out anything from a simulated fart, dog bark, or a sexy beckoning voice. Naturally, I could do without the sound of gas expelled, but that should draw either laughs or angry stares in confined places. You can even bring this gadget to places like buses, trains, and places where you can pop all day. I suggest, however, that one refrain from using the Puchi-Puchi in enclosed places like planes, meeting rooms and classrooms, and churches.
Are you one of those who utterly refuses to use public toilets because they are dirty, stink, or harbor all kinds of dangerous germs? Never fear, the briefcase toilet is here – and it is guaranteed to satisfy the most discriminating toilet user’s tastes and desires. The portable potty is contained in an attractive briefcase, complete with nice toilet seat and all. It has toilet paper, even reading material of your choice, and hand sanitizer if needed. What more could you ask for? Of course, once used, there is always the dirty job of disposing of the waste materials. But that is another story, and I am sure that somewhere in Japan or elsewhere in the world, some geek is hard at work figuring out a brilliant solution to this problem. Like a liquid spray that would render the subject useful by transforming it into instant compost or something like that.